INSIGHTS

The Post-Pandemic Pantry: Seizing the Growth Opportunity

April 26, 2022

Snacking occasions are still on the rise, and vending and micro markets are reaping the benefits.

Sixty-four percent of consumers replace at least one meal with a snack, with higher adoption among younger generations, according to the Mondelēz International State of Snacking 2021 report.1

With the rise in snacking and the return to a new normal post-pandemic, micro markets specifically are poised for growth, according to industry experts.

”From 2014 to 2018, U.S. vending machines declined from 4.5 million to 4 million, while from 2013 to 2020 micro markets rose from 5,000 to more than 23,000,” Alan Munson, chief commercial officer of Parlevel Systems said at the NAMA 2022 show, citing industry statistics.2

In fact, more than 85% of operators said they “definitely” think the micro market could replace manual foodservice.3

“Micro markets are expanding at an incredible rate,”said Malcolm McAlpine, business manager, branded snacks and confections for vending and micro markets at Mondelēz International. “Offices are never in all likelihood, never going to be the same, coming out of COVID; we’re probably never going to have the same number of people in offices as we did before, and, for that reason, micro markets make sense for a lot of smaller office locations where they can still get a full meal.”

Here’s what you need to know to make the most of the movement in micro markets.

Consider Consumer Trends

Merchandising overhauls continue to bring in new consumers and increase customer spend. Knowing your audience and their snacking habits will help you build the perfect pantry.

For example, employees like to have options, so it’s important to provide a variety of individually packaged snacks in key categories that span across categories, brands, flavors, sizes and formats, including:

  • breakfast bars
  • cookies
  • sour candy
  • salty snacks
  • snacks for sustenance
  • better for you
  • permissible indulgence
  • meal replacements


  • While convenience and freshness are top rising impactors of snack choices, consumers are also seeking snacks that are both indulgent and healthy, comforting and energizing.1

    Having an array of snacks to suit different needs is also important as each generation has different snacking patterns and behaviors, reasons for snacking and snack or brand preferences. For example, each demographic has a standout motivation for snacking compared with the others.1

    Gen Z is most likely to snack to relieve anxiety and boredom.1

    Millennials are most likely to snack to meet nutritional needs.1

    Gen X is most likely to snack for comfort.1

    Knowing your audience is essential to understanding how you can maximize these generational differences by providing the right snacks. That includes providing the brands that appeal the most to these different demographics.

    The following Mondelēz International brands index above average with each generation.4

    Gen Z: SOUR PATCH KIDS, TRIDENT, NUTTER BUTTER, CHIPS AHOY!

    Millennials: GOLDEN OREO, OREO Thins, belVita, HONEYMAID, NILLA Wafers, NUTTER BUTTER, RITZ Bits, SOUR PATCH KIDS

    Gen X: OREO THINS, TRISCUIT, FIG NEWTONS

    Follow These Best Practices

    Data-driven category management is vital to make sure your office pantry is stocked with the snacks your employees want. Here are some best practices to keep in mind, according to McAlpine.

  • Rotate products by daypart, season and product turnover to keep on-trend snacks available and top of mind.
  • Tailor offerings to predominant demographic by location.
  • Give employees the option to share their snacking needs and desires.
  • Be open to negative feedback and react accordingly.
  • Greater shelf space means more opportunity to stock multiple formats and flavors of consumers favorite snacks.
  • Evolve Your Vending & Micro Market Strategy

    As more employees return to the office, providing recognizable brands and enhanced offerings in micro markets and vending areas keeps enthusiasm high and the return-to-work momentum positive. While we can never go back to the way things were before, the state of the industry now provides opportunities to evolve and take a more strategic approach to maximize vending and micro market profits.

    Mondelēz International provides objective guidance and data-driven recommendations to our partners for category management, from which products to offer to how to run successful promotions. You can learn more on our vending website.

    1 Mondelēz 2021 State of Snacking
    2 What comes after micro markets? Vending Times
    3 Automatic Merchandiser's 2021 State of the Industry report
    4 The NPD Group/SnackTrack, Data for 2 years ending June 2020